Lagos-Ibadan free train ride: Drama as passengers besiege Lagos station, pleading to stand

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Contrary to the low patronage recorded on the Lagos-Ibadan standard guage free train service between Monday and Wednesday, passengers besieged Iju Station on Thursday to enjoy the ride to Ibadan.

On Thursday, the number of passengers outnumbered available seats in the train.

A sizeable number of intending passengers had been waiting since 11 a.m for the train billed to depart Lagos for Ibadan at 4pm.

Before 3 p.m., huge crowd of intending passengers had gathered at the station and filled all the available seats in the train with two executive coaches.

Confusion arose when those, who had earlier in the day registered their names to travel with the train, returned few minutes to 3 p.m. to discover that the train had been filled up to capacity.

Many more intending passengers started to troop into the station and begging the officials of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to allow them stand in the train.

When the entire station was about to be thrown into confusion, the NRC officials had to bend the rule of not allowing people to stand.

The NRC officials were overwhelmed and allowed some few other intending passengers to go with the train that left Iju Station at exactly 4 p.m. for Ibadan.

Mr Saheed Olabode, one of the intending passengers, who came after the train had been filled up, begged the official to allow him in, saying that he was coming from Lekki area to enjoy the ride.

Several other persons came to the station for enquiries on the train movement on Friday.

The officials were already expressing fears on how to cope with the number of passengers on Friday being a weekend.

Lagos State Railway District Manager, Mr Jerry Oche, expressed surprise about the sudden turnout of passengers.

Asked if the NRC intended to increase the number of coaches to accommodate more intending passengers, Oche said that the service would increase from December 21.

He said that instead of one return trip daily from Ibadan to Lagos, it would be twice daily.

It was reported that only six passengers turned up for the ride on Monday and Tuesday together in Lagos.

A Senior Station Master at Iju, Mr Sunday Abu, said that people were getting to know about the free ride and the number of beneficiaries had started improving each day.

According to him, on Wednesday, the train moved 14 passengers to Lagos from Ibadan and returned 31 passengers to Ibadan.

He said that 22 passengers enjoyed the free ride from Ibadan to Lagos on Thursday.

The train leaves Ibadan for Lagos daily from Monday to Friday at 9 am and returns to Ibadan from Lagos at 4 pm each day.

The train has two coaches of 24 executive seats.

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